By Ian Schultz
December 19, 2013
They Might Be Giants return to Manchester on their first UK tour in the better part of a decade in support of new album Nanobots. Wonder Villains (who were so ridiculously twee it was almost sickening) were tonight’s support. They are much more suited for Indietracks even though TMBG are an indie pop band in their own weird way.
TMBG have been doing this for years so they arrive on the dot at 9 o’ clock and open with the song ‘Rhythm Section Want Ad’ from the self titled debut known as The Pink Album. It’s a real hit-friendly set as they play all the songs we know and love like THAT song about a nightlight, ‘Don’t Let’s Start’, ‘Ana Ng’, ‘The Guitar’ and a tease of ‘Boss Of Me’ (the theme from Malcolm in the Middle). Since it’s a tour to promote a new album they do a sprinkling of songs from that which includes a great bit of 2-minute pop about Nikola Tesla simple titled ‘Tesla’.
The two Johns who formed the band haven’t aged one bit in appearance or demeanour for a band that are on the cusp of 30 years together. John Flansburgh is very much the Mr. Showbiz of the two while John Linnell is the quieter artist type who just stares out the audience one by one behind his keys. They have more energy in performance than any 100 current indie bands you could give me and that’s a good thing – with such an extensive catalogue of songs to play and change every night they need that energy in both mind and body. The band also had amazing projections, making it seem at one point almost like we were witnessing a far out psych band from the ’60s through a tear in time. Very groovy as they would say back then.
I’m a guy whose first gig was Weird Al Yankovic and I recall how bizarre that audience was but he really has good competition with TMBG. The crowd is full of some of the most socially inept nerds you will ever see in your life – old punks, arty student types, people up for a party band and psycho old fangirls who still lust off the two Johns after first setting eyes on them 20+ years ago. Oh and I forgot parents with their kids because they have released a couple of kids albums in the last 10 years. It’s like being stuck in 5 different subcultures at the same time but nobody really dances despite TMBG being a party band in many ways. It’s also so twee and polite in a weird way especially during the Planet of the Apes vs. Man section, which they part the audience in two for ( I ran to the front but afterwards was told off by some asshole dad).
It’s a really sold with the John’s and hired hands playing the hits and some new stuff. TMBG are really worth seeing sometime cause it’s so rare to see a band that can put on a show this good. You will not be disappointed and you will be amazed by the most fucked up group of people they have as fans.